By Adibe Emenyonu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini, has instituted a N10billion libel suit against the Edo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Col. David Imuse (rtd), and the party’s Media Campaign Council Chairman, Mr. John Mayaki.
Igini, in a separate writ of summons with the suit numbers: B/555/2020 and B/556/2020 filed yesterday before a Benin-city High Court by Edwin Okonedo on behalf of his counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor, demanded the sum of N5billion as aggravated damages each from the APC chairman and Mayaki respectively.
He also joined three newspaper publishing firms (THISDAY not included) as co- defendants.
The REC also demanded a full page unreserved apology to be published by the two defendants in every edition of the Punch, Tribune, Guardian and the Sun Newspapers for seven consecutive times commencing not later than seven days after the judgment of the case.
He also prayed the court for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, privies and or servants, howsoever called from further publishing same or similar words defamatory against him.
Igini alleged that on August 30, 2020, during the just concluded governorship election campaigns, the state APC chairman and the APC Media Campaign Council addressed journalists at a press conference titled: ‘Press conference on Governor Godwin Obaseki’s criminal attempt to infiltrate INEC officers like Mr. Mike Igini’ in Auchi, Etsako West Local Government Area.
He averred that the press conference which was published in the three national newspapers with different headlines such as: ‘APC accuses Akwa Ibom REC, Igini of meeting Obaseki secretly’, and INEC REC, Igini, plotting with Obaseki to rig election-APC’, was malicious, reckless, mischievous and with intent to destroy his hard-earned reputation.
“The publications have dented the image of the claimant, and the people who erstwhile held the claimant in high esteem have lost confidence in him and now avoid him.
“The claimant states that the defendants’ publications have greatly injured his credit, character, reputation, electoral impartiality, and has been brought into hatred, ridicule, odium and contempt of the right thinking members of the society.
“The claimant states that in consequence of the defendants’ published words, the claimant has been subjected to continuous ridicule and his global electoral integrity as an umpire has been adversely affected and could not be considered for special assignments in Edo State for the 2020 governorship elections like his other colleagues,” he declared.
While denying all the allegations leveled against him at the press conference, he, however, added that he stopped over at Protea Hotel in Benin-city on August 24, 2020. for refreshments in company of his two other colleagues on his way to Delta State for a burial ceremony.
Igini opined that the suit become necessary following the failure of the state factional chairman of APC to comply with his protest letter dated August 31, 2020, demanding the retraction of the said publications.
He said he has the permission of the authorities of the INEC to institute the suit in order to maintain his integrity.